Compared to previous episodes, there wasn’t a whole lot of drama in this episode. Of course, you just can’t get too comfortable with this anime, even when the ending sequence starts playing because BAM they always have something to keep you on your toes. But overall, this episode was certainly one where the simple slice of life aspects really shined.
We pick up where the last episode ended and Maki presents the new pairs to the rest of his team, only to immediately be met with anger and dissatisfaction. But let’s see how the worst possible pairs that could be crafted fared with each other. First, we had the self-centered pair, Tsubasa and Shingo. Both of them were primarily leaders in their previous pair and played in opposite positions to Maki’s ideal set. In the beginning, Tsubasa struggles quite a bit with being in the front and Shingo spends quite a bit of time telling him all of their mistakes they slowly begin to mesh with each other. Of course, they aren’t perfect but as both of them are pretty self-centered they slowly start to understand where they shine and where they need to step back and let the other take care of it.
Next, we have Rintaro and Itsuki and there isn’t a whole lot that I can say about these two and their dynamic. Between these two, not a whole lot was done to emphasize their dynamic. However, Itsuki is pretty hot-headed and seems to be a person who acts more on impulse rather than taking a step back and thinking things through. Rintaro is our vice president and if anything he is definitely trying his best to make sure things are going well, but doesn’t quite have the confidence as other characters do. What does stick out about Rintaro in this episode is all of his cutaways as he’s usually seen looking quite defeated, or even more removed from the group. Aside from a continuation of Maki’s abusive father subplot, I think Rintaro and his struggles will be a focus of the next episode. I’m really interested to how they flesh him out! It looks like his Mom is a person of support, but a person’s lack of self-confidence can come from outside their family.
Lastly, we have the more reserved players, Taiyo and Nao. I don’t think we’ve seen a single match where Nao hasn’t tripped over himself trying to return a ball. Both he and Taiyo previously were seen as lackeys and generally supported people who were more interested in controlling the game. With this pair, while they aren’t the most out there, they are able to connect with each other because of mutual understanding. They both know their weaknesses, but since they are also pretty in tune with each other they can make judgments and adapt accordingly. They certainly aren’t the best pair in terms of skill, but they now have the opportunity to engage and improve together. And to be completely honest, the first promotional art that I saw for this anime was of Taiyo and Nao so I thought that they were actually the main characters. When I watched the first episode I was definitely like “wait a second, Maki and Toma don’t look like either of the main characters!” I was fooled, but I’m still glad that it looks like each of the club members will have their moment in the spotlight.
Outside of adjusting and meshing with their new pairs, the student council is starting to take note of their actions. As we know from the first episode, and club that fails to perform to standard will be cut. At first, all members aside from the President express their worries but she quickly shuts down the other council members worries by letting them know that the soft tennis club is full of useless members who lack talent and drive. And honestly! She was ruthless! It makes me want to cheer on the soft tennis club even more, but even though things are looking up for the club I just have a feeling something’s going to happen and all their progress will crumble. Stay strong soft tennis club!
But our tennis club now has something to look forward to because they’ll finally have the opportunity to have a practice match against a top team in their new pairs. I actually really liked how all the member’s were pretty upset at hearing the news. They know they are nowhere near as good as the school they are going to play and honestly I’d feel the same way. But! I appreciated how Maki handled it. Essentially saying “Yeah! We’re going to lose, but we can take this as an opportunity to grow as a team!”. And seeing all of their “grasshopper” energy just made me want to cheer them on and I hope for the best. But I’m also really interested in the coach’s connection with the teams. I want to know what the accident a few years ago was, but I have a feeling that there was a tragic incident that happened to a current player. I mean, we should really be ready for anything.
And while I, and probably a lot of you, thought the episode would end on a high note Maki’s father made his grand reappearance. I won’t go in to depth about how awful he is because I’m pretty sure we can all agree that he is probably the least liked character in the entire series thus far. After what happened previously I was honestly afraid that he was going to hit Maki with the racket, but instead he just destroyed smashed the racket to pieces exclaiming that Maki has his genes and that he should just give up. I don’t have too much to say other than, I’m afraid for how this will impact the next episode. Things were just starting to look up for the team… but now Maki’s out of a racket and will now have to face the team. I’m interested to see where it goes and how’s it’s handled, but at the end of the day, I just hope something good happens to Maki and the rest of the team.